coronavirus cases Virus Outbreak Arizona
Arizona governor Doug Ducey, center, talks to Matt Heckard, left, assistant director of preparedness, with the State of Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) as members of DEMA work responding to the coronavirus pandemic, in the DEMA operations center at the Arizona National Guard Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Major General Michael T. McGuire (background right) the director of DEMA, looks on. (David Wallace/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

The number of coronavirus cases is now up to 63, with 101 cases pending.

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is activating the National Guard to help grocery stores and food banks, halting elective surgeries and closing businesses in areas with known cases of COVID-19. 

On Thursday, Ducey intensified his response to the coronavirus outbreak under growing pressure from other elected officials to take more aggressive action. His actions came on a day public health authorities reported the biggest day-to-day jump in cases. As of Friday morning, cases jumped once more from 44 to 63 confirmed cases, with 101 cases pending.

Navajo Nation health authorities late Thursday reported 14 cases on the reservation and issued a “shelter in place” order for people in the Chilchinbeto community in northeastern Arizona to stay home. It was not immediately clear how many of the 14 cases were reflected in Arizona’s statewide numbers.

The Navajo reservation also includes parts of New Mexico and Utah.

Ducey, a Republican, said on Twitter his orders will ensure grocery shelves remain stocked and preserve the ability of hospitals to manage an influx of cases. In eight counties with known infections, bars, movie theaters, and gyms will be required to close; and restaurants will be restricted to takeout and drive-thru service starting Friday.

Restaurants will be able to deliver alcoholic beverages with the purchase of food, an effort to limit the huge financial hit that restaurants are facing. 

Ducey also delayed the expiration date for driver’s licenses to ensure people over 65 don’t need to visit the Motor Vehicle Division.

Ducey had for days recommended that people avoid crowds but stopped short of a statewide mandate for businesses to close or people to stay home. Tempe — a nightlife hotspot — on Thursday joined cities including Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, and Sedona that have ordered bars and gyms to close while restaurants offer only takeout or drive-thru service.

The delay in acting had echoes of his foot-dragging on closing schools. The second-term governor took that action last Sunday after school district officials across metro Phoenix had ignored his calls from the week before not to close schools.

“Maybe today is the day we can convince @dougducey to take action and enforce the new WH/CDC guidelines to keep Arizonans safe and save lives. Please help,” Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema wrote on Twitter Thursday morning.

More than half of Arizona’s 63 COVID-19 cases are in Maricopa County. The rest are spread between Coconino, Graham, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Yavapai counties. Public health authorities say the number of confirmed infections will pick up in the coming days as more tests are conducted. The state lab has limited testing supplies but commercial labs are building up their own testing capacity. 

For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, older adults and people with health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.